I Hate Confrontations
About three weeks ago, I bought a new-to-me bicycle at a local resale shop. It’s a Schwinn 21 Speed Mountain bike. It’s a higher-end model, one with the shocks on both the front and rear axles and gear changers in the handle bars. It’s a sweet bike, and I’m looking forward to riding it.
When I bought it, it had two flat tires, and one of the tires had to be completely replaced because it was in that bad shape. Also, as it is a 21 speed (and the highest speed bike I’d ever owned before was a 10 speed), the hubby and I decided to take it to the nearest bike shop that does repairs and have it checked out. While Conall checked it out when we bought it (checked the gear change mechanism, brakes, the chain to make sure it wasn’t about to break, that type of thing), he hasn’t had a bike since the 1970s, and that was a 10 speed as well.
The bike was so inexpensive we figured that even if we had to invest $400 for it to be in tip top shape, I’d still be getting an awesome deal. And if we overlooked a major problem that would be too expensive to repair, we weren’t out anything.
So, a week after I bought the bike, I called the bike shop to see about taking it in. The bike shop had a two-week wait, and they could schedule me for an appointment for May 17, last Thursday. Of course, I made the appointment.
On Wednesday, Conall and I took the bike to the shop.
As soon as we walked in, we were greeted, which was nice. The young man at the front counter then engaged Conall in a discussion of the bike. Every time I said something, he ignored me. At one point he even talked over me so he could ask Conall a question, the answer of which I was already telling him. It wasn’t until the employee (referred to from now on as DE, for Douchebag Employee) saw that the appointment was in my name that he started to talk to me, and that was at the very end of the encounter.
After we left the building, I asked Conall if I had imagined the employee ignoring me or not. Conall said I had not, and then offered up, “You don’t have the type of body they expect to see in a bike shop.”
“That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t at least give me the courtesy of listening to me!” Conall completely agreed with me that the employee was rude and dismissive.
Honestly, if I’d not already waited two weeks to have my bike fixed, I would have taken the bike out with me. I was so angry.
Everywhere on the internet, fat people see the “advice” to just start moving, start exercising. Just get off your lazy butts and you’d lose all the extra weight and be miraculously healthy (whether or not you’re ill to begin with). Many people like to tell us fatties that we just have to employ some self-discipline, both in not eating the donuts and in exercising daily. Then everything would be awesome for us! We would be healthy!
And more important, we would be at a socially acceptable size and they wouldn’t mind looking at us anymore! No, wait, it’s about the health! Really!
The problem comes when the fat person actually, you know, exercises. Especially when they commit the crime of exercising in public while fat.
Anecdotally, I’ve been more abused when I’ve gone out exercising in public than I have been when doing any other activity (other than eating in public, that is). I’ve heard about people who have had things thrown at them out of cars because they exercised in public while fat.
A couple of years ago, I heard a story about a friend of a friend who, when told by his doctor that he had to lose weight, went out and bought a really good bike and all the accessories to go with it (brand new, not from a resale shop like I just did). On his very first ride, he had some idiots in a car try to run him off the road, all the while yelling at him that he was too disgusting to ride his bike and that he should lose weight before he did anything like ride a bike in public! The man was so humiliated, he sold the bike and all of the gear and never rode again.
I know what I’m opening myself up for. Since my first ride is still in the future (I don’t have a helmet yet), I have the opportunity to practice my comebacks to idiots who try to stop me from exercising.
But I really was not expecting to be completely dismissed when I brought my bike into the shop to make sure it was in tip top shape.
When I went to pick up the bike a couple days later, I spoke the the store manager and complained about how I’d been treated. DE, who treated me so shabbily, was on the other register and that almost made me lose my nerve. I really don’t like confrontations.
I pushed through my anxiety and complained anyway. I explained how angry I’d been that I’d been treated like this, and that it wasn’t only me who saw it, but my husband as well. I told the manager that the only reason I left the bike there was because I waited two weeks for the appointment.
At first, DE tried to say it had to be another employee because there was another employee who looked like him. I showed DE the repair form and asked him if that was his handwriting. He admitted it was his handwriting. And then, without being asked, DE surprised me and apologized for treating me that way, promising he would never treat me like that again.
I accepted his apology, and thanked him for it.
The manager then took half off my bill for the repairs, which I had not asked for and even tried to argue against. After all, they did the work, they should be paid for it.
The apology and discount was nice. However, I’d much rather have paid full price for the repairs and not have been totally ignored and made to feel as if I didn’t exist, just because I am fat.